Lateral epicondylitis or commonly known as 'tennis elbow' is an overuse injury surrounding the outer part of your elbow. Often the muscles that attach to this area get overworked, tired and generally cranky often leading to pain. Things like opening car doors, shaking hands and twisting tops/caps off bottles make it worse.
Great. So we know what the pain is, what causes it and what makes it worse. However we should ask ourselves the question why did they become 'overused' in the first place?
For those of you that have read Thomas Myers 'anatomy trains' you will be quite familiar with his philosophy that muscles do not work independently but more so on movement patterns and slings. In other words, muscles are connected to other muscles and tissues.
I want to bring your attention to the above picture. This here is referred to as the 'arm lines'. As you can see there are few muscles that criss cross one another from the right hand up to the shoulder. These muscles pretty much work as one unit for your upper arm not individually. So for instance your rounded shoulders from sitting too much at work shorten your pec muscles which causes the rest of your arm muscles to change the way they lengthen contract. Boom elbow pain. Another example is a previous shoulder injury that was not treated correctly which led to a change how the shoulder worked, causing the elbow to take more load on than it is used to.
On the other hand (pardon the pun) if your hand is moving too much, aka unstable, it will try and stabilise itself at you guessed it, your elbow.
So next time you go and see your physical therapist and they only treat your elbow for your elbow pain you better ask them. ' what about the rest of the arm?'
Feel better, Move better, Perform